VAIL, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Freshman Ashley Bradford belted a two-run triple to help spark a four-run seventh inning as #7 Sahuaro came back to beat 4th ranked Cienega 7-5 to take the lead in the race for the Division II Section II softball title.
The Cougars (18-5, 6-0) got a stellar performance in the circle by senior Andie Larkins who opened the game hot striking out five of the first six batters she faced.
The Bobcats (11-5, 4-1) struggled throughout the game with their defense.
Cienega could not execute an early throw to first base or a popup at second base off the bat of Bradley that led to Sahuaro's first two runs.
The Cougars led 3-1 in the fifth inning when Cienega finally broke thru against Larkins.
Mickaela Keiser bunted home Jenessa Jarvis who had doubled to start the rally.
Melanie Cross followed later with a two-run single to put the Bobcats on top 4-3.
New Mexico State-bound pitcher Kayla Green could not however shut the door on the Cougars in the seventh.
Sahuaro sophomore Ariana Gomez helped set the table for Bradford's heroics by laying down a perfect bunt single.
That was followed by an error at shortstop by the Bobcats' Keiser that allowed the tying run to score.
Bradford than tripled past a diving Shelby Kennedy in centerfield to give the Cougars the 6-4 lead.
Down 7-4 in the last of the seventh, Cienega threatened thanks to a triple by Cross and an RBI double by Miranda Carley, but Larkins was able to get Taylor Lambert to ground out to end the game.
The Seattle University signee (Larkins) finished with ten strike outs overall.
The win for Sahuaro was their seventh in a row since a March 24th 14-inning setback to Ironwood Ridge.